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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Merry Christmas from our house to yours …

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… Talulah (Russian Blue “watch cat”), Pandora (multi-colored California speckled “people cat”), Outback (Australian Cattle Dog, aka “CrazyDog”,which is said as all one word), Roy, and Jill …

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There’s nothing more to add here.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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You know something? On this Christmas Eve, I am amazed by how many people think it’s best to “fit in” and “follow the crowd”. Why is this so? God made each of us to be a special being and to give our own special qualities to better the world and those around us. Being like the crowd and bending whichever way the cultural wind blows isn’t truly living life and giving of yourself. Don’t squelch your true soul. Let it shine and LIVE life. Be in the moment. What has being “PC” ever gotten anyone, other than a bland vanilla life?

BE THE KINDA PERSON THAT FASCINATES THOSE AROUND YOU.

BE THAT KINDA GUY!!!!!!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

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You will never ever EVER get us to be “PC” about Christmas. PERIOD! (Oh, and unlike BO, the idiot occupying the White House, when *we* say “PERIOD”, we are not lying. We *mean* “PERIOD*!!!

 

So.

 

With that, we offer these:

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

 

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I work for the State of California Employment Development Department in the Unemployment Insurance Division on Capitol Mall in Sacramento, 2 blocks from the Capitol Building. I know I’ve said this before, but I am reiterating it for a reason.

I am quite well aware of what most people think of government workers and, in particular, state workers and, even more so, those of us blessed with working in Unemployment Insurance. You can’t fool me. I *know* what most of you think … that we are all lazy, stupid, overpaid, do-nothing’s, sucking off the taxpayers. (No, that would be people like BO, the current occupier of the White House, and his gang of crooks.).

Anyway!

Hold that thought close to your hearts and think about that throughout the Christmas season as you go to your parties.

Yesterday (Thursday) I worked from 7am to 6pm. I worked 7am to 5pm today (Friday). Tomorrow (Saturday) I’ll work 7am to 5pm yet again. Then on Sunday, I’ll work 9am to 4pm, just to get up on Monday and work 7am to 6pm (yes, that’s right … you read all of those hours correctly). Tuesday … Christmas Eve … I’ll work 7am to noon, taking the afternoon off, wanting to spend *some* Christmas time with my family. I have Christmas Day off since I hold that day to be a holy celebration. I’ll be at work the day after Christmas from 7am to 6pm yet again, as well as on Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I get Saturday off (woo) to attend my beloved daughter’s wedding shower (gee, we actually do have families and lives too). Then I get New Years Day off, when I’ll probably sleep all day, just to be back at it the day after. How many of you are willing to do that?

There may be some government workers that are lazy but there are many private industry workers that are too. My point is …. the vast majority of the government workers put their hearts and souls into what they do.

I get tired of the clichés.

Oh, hell, I just get TIRED.

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Sometimes you’ve got to take the heat,

If you’re gonna walk down on the mean street.

Take the heat, and you see it through,

Cuz sometimes it comes down to –

Do what you gotta do!

Sometimes it goes right down to the wire,

And you might have to walk through the fire.

Walk on, boy, all the way through.

Sometimes it just comes down to –

Do what you gotta do!

Well, there’s people that’ll tell ya it’s just no use,

And there’s people that’ll tell ya that you’re gonna lose,

People that’ll tell ya anything you’re gonna listen to.

Do what you gotta do!

Someday, they’re going to call your name.

They’ll come lookin’ for someone to blame.

What’s your name, boy?

Hey, you just tell the truth,

Cuz they can’t take the truth from you.

So do what you gotta do!

Well, they’ll call you a hero or a traitor,

But you’ll find out that sooner or later

Nobody in this world is gonna do it for you.

Do what you gotta do!

Well, there ain’t nobody in this world that’s gonna do it for you.

Do what you gotta do!

                                                                                    Garth Brooks

My son, Keegan, was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  CF is caused by a defective gene which causes the body to produce abnormally thick and sticky fluid, called mucus.  This mucus builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and in the pancreas, the organ that helps to break down and absorb food.  This collection of sticky mucus results in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestion problems.  The disease may also affect the sweat glands and a man’s reproductive system.

Millions of Americans carry the defective CF gene but do not have any symptoms.  That’s because a person with CF must inherit two defective CF genes — one from each parent.  An estimated 1 in 29 Caucasian Americans have the CF gene.  The disease is the most common, deadly, inherited disorder affecting Caucasians in the United States.  It’s more common among those of Northern or Central European descent.  As I’ve stated before, my ancestral line is mainly Irish and German.  My ex-husband’s is Irish, German, and Scandinavian.

Most children with CF are diagnosed by age 2.  A small number, however, are not diagnosed until age 18 or older.  These patients usually have a milder form of the disease.  Keegan was diagnosed by the time he was 2 months old.  I’ll discuss that at another time … on the anniversary of his diagnosis.

My CF definition here is in conjunction with my comments of a few weeks back when I discussed his Leap Day birthday and how he felt he had 2 birthdays on those years when there was no Leap Day.  I continued on with the train of thought by stating that really he has 3 birthdays and that I would discuss that at another time.  Guess what?  Now is that time!  Surprise!

Keegan fought for life throughout his entire existence.  He had that “never give up” attitude and that “do what you gotta do” philosophy that my father raised me to have and that I raised my children to have, where you “do what you gotta do” in the face of any challenge.

Therefore, when Keegan was told at the age of 12 that he had only 50% lung capacity and that he might need to get a lung transplant to be able to continue life, he never thought twice about it.  He chose to go for it.  I of course wanted him to have that transplant, but I never pushed it one way or the other.  It’s a very, very, VERY difficult row to hoe, and it would be his battle with my help, so it was his choice.  He chose to go for it.

At the time, we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He was therefore scheduled for tests with the world-renowned transplant team at Stanford University Hospital.  Lung transplants at the time were not that common in adults, let alone children, but they agreed to meet with him and me, although they gave us no guarantees.  They only picked the most likely and most motivated candidates.  They turned down more hopefuls than they accepted and the wait for child-sized organs was longer than adult.

Keegan and I were interviewed (as were his father and his siblings) at the age of 12.  They liked his attitude and his medical support network.  They accepted him!  We were ecstatic, but it was contingent on many medical tests.

He went through testing … and we were given the news that he was TOO SICK from his CF to obtain a transplant.  They didn’t think that (1) he’d make it to transplant or (2) he’d survive the transplant surgery.  We were devastated, but we asked if there were alternatives.  We were told that the only alternatives were to try another lesser transplant program to see if they’d accept us and/or to try to improve his health.

They were more encouraging to try another program.  Now, we were agreeable to that and would have taken him anywhere he needed to go in the world for whatever treatment he needed, but we knew Stanford’s reputation so we asked what their suggestions would be to improve his health.

We were told that we wouldn’t have the stamina or will-power to do what needed to be done.

Sometimes it comes down to … do what you gotta do …

“Yeah?  Try us.”

It’s hard work.

“We don’t care.  TELL US WHAT TO DO.”

You won’t want to.

TELL US!!!!!!!!!!!!”

By that time, both Keegan and I were shouting.

So they outlined it out.  We brought home their recommendations, started sending inquiries to other programs, and got to work on improving his health.

I’ll cut the story shorter here and say … a year later, Keegan was put on the transplant list for a double lung transplant … at the age of 13½ … younger than almost any other … through Stanford University Hospital; Palo Alto, CA … by the late Dr. James Theodore, one of the very original pioneers of heart-lung transplantation.

Sometimes it goes right down to the wire,

And you might have to walk through the fire.

Walk on, boy, all the way through.

Sometimes it just comes down to –

Do what you gotta do!

Well, there’s people that’ll tell ya it’s just no use,

And there’s people that’ll tell ya that you’re gonna lose,

People that’ll tell ya anything you’re gonna listen to.

Do what you gotta do!

Now, the wait was long:  2½ years to be exact.  He nearly died several times.  He could no longer attend school and was being home-schooled by me and some teachers that the school district set up.  Some of his friends would visit.  Some of them were so afraid of his illness that they no longer contacted him.  He and I became almost inseparable because I was his main caregiver.  We’d find things to keep his spirits up.  He did his school work.  He was goofy and colored his hair with the seasons to keep his spirits up (orange at Halloween, red & blue on the 4th of July, red & green at Christmas; and a bright green on St Patrick’s Day).  He was called one time for transplant near Halloween, but the lungs were disqualified due to damage and he was sent home.  We were devastated.  However, March 19 … tomorrow … is Keegan’s “other” birthday … his “Transplant Birthday” … made possible by a caring wonderful donor family (who we’ve met and who was able to meet Keegan also) who donated the organs of their beloved daughter who died at the age of 20.

This is a bittersweet anniversary/birthday.  I mourn the loss of their beloved Brandy.  I rejoice in the fact that they had the generosity to provide the gift of life to a very sick 16-year-old boy who probably wouldn’t have lived another month when he received that ultimate gift.  We are still in contact with his donor family all these years later.

Suffice it to say, for now at least, that on March 18th, 2000, the day after St Patrick’s Day, on an unseasonably nice Saturday afternoon at approximately 3:15 pm, Stanford Hospital called my cell phone, one that I myself had splurged on and purchased when Keegan was put on the transplant list, because, at the time, the only thing available for the hospital to provide us was a pager if they couldn’t contact us.  Cell phone technology hadn’t become as widespread as it is now.  For me, it’s like the times I went into labor with my children before birth.  It was like going into labor the day before the birth.  It was exciting and terrifying at the same time.  I knew that he could die from CF or the transplant at any time, but we were willing to fight to get the life he craved.

But you’ll find out that sooner or later

Nobody in this world is gonna do it for you.

Do what you gotta do!

He never skipped a beat.  He took a fast shower so he’d be “clean” for the doctors.  He packed up his school books and homework, so he’d “have something to do in the hospital after surgery” and so he “wouldn’t get behind his classmates” (he always knew it would be fine).  He walked out the door sporting lime green hair from St Patrick’s Day and a green Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

Stanford Hospital doctors, nurses, and staff will never forget the transplant patient with the bright green hair.

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I wish I’d had the foresight to take his picture when we’d left for his transplant, but I didn’t.

I was a bit unnerved by it all, to say the least.

Here’s the best I can do with a picture taken just a few weeks earlier.

His hair had been dyed blue for his birthday.

Those that understand CF will know and see how very sick this boy was at the time.

They’ll also see that fighter’s spirit shining in his eyes.

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… uhhhhhhh … I’ll pass, thanks anyway though …

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This time of year and attempts at weight loss (or even just not actually gaining *additional* weight) are not tasks for the weak, the faint of heart, or those without a will of iron. I do love to eat and the foods for now are *my* kind of food … hearty, filling, warm, rich, high calorie, fatty down-home cooking. It’s hard too as you age to lose weight anyway (see picture attachment).

So after eating like a &$%{«#@ pig the past few days, imagine my sheer amazement and delight that my weight stayed even. I wasn’t trying to lose. I was just trying to remember my lessons in portion control taught to me by MyFitnessPal and the weight maintenance and exercise tools I’ve been taught.

I’ll log my exact weight loss and current goals on January 1 (New Years Day, 8 months into my “better health regime”), but suffice it to say that I’m thrilled.

Remember: no matter your age or overall general health, you *can* get in better health and shape without a lot of excess money like the exercise & healthcare industries try to push at us all.

You just need self-discipline and backbone to do what is right for your health. Period.

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Perhaps this should be kept near all fire protection & safety gear? (Ok ok remember … we’re just joking … but it made us laugh. It’s important to always keep your sense of humor about you, especially living in a wildfire area like we do.)

🙂

Merry Christmas, all! Roy and I *do* love our smores on the firepit! Have a joyous holiday.

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I write about a lot of things … sometimes about my background … sometimes about food … sometimes about my weight loss … sometimes about the ridiculous political situation in our country right now … or anything else that comes to mind.  Most blogs are focused to one particular topic from what I can tell.  Ours is focused on the ups-and-downs of our lives, which can be a lot of different things.

So today is to put in some good news.  I’ll start however with some of the ridiculous that has befallen Roy and me over the past many years.  Like I said previously, we met online and have known each other for quite some time.  We’ve been married for slightly over 5 years … on 11.23.07.  My daughter and my oldest son were, respectively, Maid of Honor and Best Man.  It was a fairly small and relaxed wedding done in our home the day after Thanksgiving in 2007.  We had a party and I did the food myself by ordering from delis and making some and having friends and family help.  It was wonderful.

In December of 2007, Roy bought into the house that I owned and was already paying a mortgage on, making it so we owned it together.  Just before Christmas, he was in a multi-car pile-up on I-680 in the SF Bay Area, and his car was totaled.  Thankfully, *he* was ok, and that’s all that mattered to me.  Right after New Year’s Day of 2008, we bought a used 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe that was in wonderful condition.  We were both working full-time and had decent income.  I won’t say “good jobs”, because in our minds, jobs are unstable and not secure, which is why we have always had other streams of income with our various private businesses.  In April of 2008, we went on a 15-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale, FL through the Panama Canal that ended in San Francisco, CA for our honeymoon, stopping in Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and 3 places in Mexico.  It was marvelous to put it mildly.

Then the wheels fell off the bus.

In June 2008, I was laid off from my job.  I had difficulty finding a full-time job so I was working part-time jobs on commission only.  We lost our health insurance and Roy had to have necessary surgery.  His job picked it up for us (thankfully) and he was able to continue on it and receive his surgery.  He was off work from August through September on Disability.  He returned to work on September 29, 2008.  On September 30, 2008, he was let go.  (There’s a lot more to that story, but it’s not necessary.  Suffice it to say we had to fight for him to receive unemployment insurance, but we won because we were right.)

They stopped his health insurance effective September 30 … with no warning … so when I went into the doctor for a scheduled appointment on October 1, I was refused service.  Now … don’t take me wrong … I am in *NO WAY* for Obummercare.  I would rather get my own health care at my own choice with insurance that I choose or do not choose.  Government, in my opinion, should not be forcing this down my throat.  However, when we are PAYING for insurance, I think that we should at least be provided warning of impending cancellation, particularly when the COBRA payments are high and neither of us is working.

Anyway, the company I was working part time (retail) for offered a very minimal insurance coverage, which I thankfully took, as it covered at least something partially.  They also offered Roy a part time low wage job.  While we needed much more than that, it certainly was better than nothing while we searched for something else.

… and we searched … and searched … and searched … and searched … and searched … and SEARCHED …

While we are building our own private businesses, government intervention and legislation makes it very difficult to build it the way we want, so it’s slower than we have wanted.  Thus, in the meantime, we needed to have a “job” that paid us a wage to be able to pay mortgages and every other thing that costs money in our society.

… and we searched … and searched … and searched … and searched … and searched … and SEARCHED …

The United States economy was tanking big time so people were being laid off by the millions and few were hiring.  Companies were going out of business.  However, finally, I got a break … and in April of 2009, I was offered and accepted a job working for the State of California Employment Development Department in their Unemployment Insurance Division.  It wasn’t a great or high-paying position but it gave me a wage, medical insurance for us both that would start in June, and something steady.

… and Roy continued to search … and search … and search … and search … and search … and SEARCH …

Then in May … just before the end of the month … while I still had the *VERY* limited health insurance … I got deathly ill and had to go into the hospital for emergency surgery.  I was assured by the hospital that it was truly an emergency but that they would work with us to pay it off a little at a time since the minimal insurance we had wouldn’t pay much of the bill.  I was in for 5 days.  My new insurance kicked in the day after I was released.  Marvelous.

… and Roy continued to search … and search … and search … and search … and search … and SEARCH …

In June of 2009, someone from that car accident Roy had been in in 2007 decided that we looked like good targets because we had a house so they chose to sue us.  We had to fight that.

… and Roy continued to search … and search … and search … and search … and search … and SEARCH …

Now … the job that I had secured was very understanding about my time off as well as about my second surgery in November 2009 … and I finished my training and I did well in what I did and I worked diligently.  However, the hospital ignored all attempts made by us to work with them and started harassing us for payment and referring it to collections and not taking our calls.  On July 5, 2010 (very nicely the day after Independence Day and the day before Roy’s birthday), they served us with a lawsuit for approximately $20,000.  At that time, we were looking to sell our house (one that I had lived in for 30 years and raised my children in), since I wasn’t making enough money to cover the mortgage, and we were using my IRA to make payments and help us survive.  We wanted to move from the over-priced SF Bay Area and find something easier to pay for and find a better job for me and more opportunity for Roy.  I was doing numerous job searches.

I won’t now go into all the gory details … but it was a general mess for quite some time … with unscrupulous realtors and contractors that cheated us and others … with a bank that we had to fight to get to cooperate with us … with a car accident lawsuit … with a health insurance lawsuit … and with numerous lawyers helping us.  The details aren’t important at this time.  What is important is … we got out from under the house mortgage; we got out from under the lawsuits (winning on them both); we got out of the Bay Area; and I was transferred/promoted to the EDD in Sacramento.  There’s more, but it doesn’t really matter.  We won.  That’s all *we* cared about.  Roy left his very minimal part time job to move with me and to focus on our two private businesses, and we moved to Placerville (love it love it LOVE it up there) so that I could start working at the Central Offices in the State Capitol, 2 blocks from the Capitol Building. 

That in itself was more complicated than apparent on the surface but I’ll just put out this much.  I was told on a Thursday night that I was to start working in Sacramento on the following Wednesday when I still lived in the Bay Area.  I stayed with my sweet, wonderful, college-age daughter for a few days after driving the first day to Sacramento from my home in the Bay Area, leaving at 3AM in a driving wind & rain storm.  She was awesome in bailing me out of a jam until we could find somewhere to stay until we got a place to live.  (There aren’t many college girls that would allow or want their mother to stay on their couch for a few days.  She’s an awesome human being and I love her dearly.)

There are a lot of things that I have left out of this just to shorten this story.  The story has been one comedy of errors after another.  I say comedy because I might as well laugh.  Otherwise, I’d sit in the corner and cry all day long.  We just know that *WE* are ok … and that life goes on … and that we won.

So since that time … I moved for higher pay … and was promoted again … and received a pay raise (I will say … when I work … I am a HARD worker … and at least they rewarded that) … but the economy for hiring still was terrible, and the government jobs were few and far between as their economy was just as bad if not worse.  So Roy worked our businesses … and continued to look.  However, the economy has been hard on businesses … and his private mobile DJ business has suffered big time, because when the economy is bad, people will not have parties or pay for music services.  Then … in the midst of it all … the IRS found a huge mistake we’d made in our taxes the year we were trying to move and sell the house and fight lawsuits and everything else … and they hit us with a large amount due.  We worked that out and have carried on. 

So in any event we have struggled but made it work.  At least we got the house sold and the lawsuits, etc, handled and the bills paid.  Sometimes we needed help from my dwindling IRA that also wasn’t earning much interest due to the bad economy … but we have made it work, which is all that really matters.  We have met great friends and we have made awesome political contacts and we love where we are (as long as the current federal government fools don’t mess it up too). 

 

Life goes on.  What can I say?  You make the best of what you have and carry on.  What more can you do?

… so Roy continued to search … and search … and search … and search … and search … and SEARCH …

… and I had started looking for another promotion or a better job myself … yet again … to try to supplement the massive Taxmageddon that is coming from the idiot in the White House in 2013 …

So … at the beginning of December … Roy was called back about a job he applied to in March of this year.  We’d nearly forgotten about it.  Last Friday, December 14, 2012, he was interviewed.  They called and offered him a job on Tuesday, December 18, 2012.  He starts after the 1st of the year, in January 2013.

Then today … my last day of work before I take a Christmas “vacation break” until after Christmas, I received more good news.  A promotion that I have worked for and asked for and applied for and wanted … came through effective today.

Our house may not have all the funds it wants right now … but we are definitely “Christmassing it” already.  We choose to look for the good in things.  We hope you do too.

Joy to the world …

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US …

and JOY TO *US* …

JOY TO ROY AND JILL!

Always look for and work toward the good.  It is well worth it, no matter what is going on in life.

Bethlehem

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